Well, every last week before our Christmas school break, we ALWAYS leave the course books aside and start….enjoying Christmas !
Actually, it all starts much earlier…..about a month before Christmas, I put up our Advent calendars, full of surprises inside…! This is when all the fun starts! We continue with our 4th graders short Christmas plays rehearsals and our artistic Christmas cards ( to be offered to our Christmas show guests ) and we conclude with the Christmas games and activities week!!
I’m sharing some NEW ideas and games that have really worked with my students, this year!
An Alternative Advent calendar
I just love Advent calendars and I use different ones, each year in class! This year, we had an alternative advent calendar, where we all had to do an act of kindness, each day. I found the idea on http://www.muminthemadhouse.com/
Kindness can cost nothing and I want to teach my students to be kinder than they need to be and feel that focusing on acts of kindness during Advent , will be a great learning experience and also spread some joy.
Our kindness mission statement:
- Spread the word – encourage other people to join in and become happiness heroes
- Have fun and enjoy making other people happy
- To be kinder than you need to be
I loved this idea! We should remind kids that, it’s more about the giving than the receiving. It is so easy to lose track of it in all the dazzle and ads and gifts and lights outside. It all becomes about the gifts and not the meaning and spirit of the holiday.
I used an old Advent calendar I had at home, but you can also use the classroom wall, as the ideal place to display the Advent trees. You can simply blue tac’d them to the wall. This would work well on any surface and be topped with a lovely star decoration.
Another idea is a hanging Advent Calendar . You can use small pegs, but strung them on to cord and then hung the trees on the wall.
Some acts of kindness ideas for your own Advent Calendar!
- Donate a coat or jumper to charity (leaving a happy note in the pocket)
- Donate to the local food bank
- Make christmas cards for your neighbours
- Leave change in the vending machine
- Sort through your toys and donate any that you no longer play with to charity or your local church
- Leave chalk messages around where you live
- Sharpen all the pencils in the classroom at breaktime
- Write a letter to your sibling telling them why you love them
- Leave a beautiful homemade bookmark in your library book and give one to the Librarian
- Leave the pound in the shopping trolley next time you go to the supermarket
- Deliver cookies to your neighbours
- Tidy your bedroom
- Write a note and mail them to the houses with great christmas lights saying thank you for lighting up their house for you to see
- Sit next to someone you normally don’t at the lunch table and be nice to them
- Be a holiday helper – volunteer to deliver local christmas cards
- Make a bird feeder
- Send a care package to someone in the military
- Find three of your toys to give to the local childrens hospital
- Pass on some of your books to friends
- Give a lottery ticket to a stranger
- Donate books to your school library
- Leave out water for the birds
- Write thank you cards for your teacher, coach, Cubs leader or people that have influenced you in a positive way
- Clean up the area where you live by picking up litter. Make sure you wear gloves and do it with an adult.
- Help round the house without being asked to
- Donate pet food to a local shelter
- Put together a shoebox for your local church
- Write a thank you note for the bin collectors and post person
- Wash your parents car
- Give a homeless person a blanket
- Deice your neighbours windshields in the morning
- Take everyone in your class a candy cane or cookie
- Take poinsettias to your nearest nursing home
- Make a christmas card for the school receptionist
- Offer to help an elderly friend or neighbour with their christmas decorations
- Make christmas flowers for the reception at school
- Make a thank you card for the school crossing staff
- Cook dinner for your family
- Offer to pack the shopping bags of the person in front of you and behind you at the supermarket
- Invite a new friend for a play date or out to play
- Walk someone elses dog
- Give out a complement
- Give out free hugs today
- Hold the door open for people all day
- Smile all day
- Let someone go in front of you in a queue
- Introduce yourself to someone new at school and chat with them
- Ring an elderly relative and have a nice chat to them
My super power
I ask my student to imagine that , from 1/1/201…, all of them possess a super power that no one else knows about. The reason they were given these powers is so that they can use them to become better people and change the World!
I ask them to create the superhero version of themselves and explain why this superpower is important and what is the thing they can change about themselves or the World!
New Year acrostic poem
Each student should refer to something they would like to achieve/change/have or not have for this year.
eg This year I’d like to have
2 large pieces of chocolate cake every day
0 worries and problems
1 big brown bookcase
6 months of vacation
I ask my students to create their infographics about their hopes or ambitions. Found the idea on http://www.easel.ly
I ask them to write down 3 new things they would like to try this year and test whether their wishes ill come true afterwards…A great warming-up, too.
Year in review
This is a nice activity for older students. I ask them to write short paragraphs about the things that made last year special/difficult/challenging for them. It can be done with or without a photos collage.
My New Year message to the world
I ask them to imagine that, their words of hope and prayers for the New Year ,might reach the troubled young people either here or in distant war-torn countries.
Then I write this question on the board:
What would your message say, and to whom would you send it?
The elf poem
This is an amazing activity which I learned about in one of the Tesol Macedonia/Thrace/Northern Greece Christmas events, a couple of years ago….I think, the activity was presented to us by Katerina Kyriakidou.
I tell my kids that, they are going to hear a poem twice. After each dictation they have to write down as much as they can remember from the poem.
We can give them any poem.Then, the class dictates the poem back to the teacher.This poem below, was written by Linda Brown.
” I saw an elf, all dressed in green
The cutest elf I’ve ever seen
I said: like your turned-up toes
He wrinkled up his elfin nose
I said: I like your nice green beard
He blushed and smiled
My variation to this activity was to ask them write their own similar poems, as homework!
The plate drawing game
This is one old-time-classic game, we all love!
This year, I could not afford to buy paper plates for all my students, therefore we used A4 sheets of paper to draw on….
Students, place their plates on top of their heads and are given the directions below:
- Draw a line for a floor
- Draw a Christmas tree . Add decorations of your choice.
- Draw a star on top of the tree
- Draw a fireplace with a mantel next to the tree
- Draw a present under the tree
- Draw a stocking hanging from the mantel of the fireplace.Add something IN it, if possible.
Winner: the player with the most points
2 points if the tree touches the floor
2 points if the stocking is touching the mantel
1 point if the star is above the tree
1 point if the star touches the tree
1 point if the fireplace doesn’t touch he tree
1 point if you draw something in the stocking
2 points, if the present is under the tree.
An alternative letter to Santa
I ask the older students to write a letter to Santa asking for a present for someone ELSE!
I begin by bringing a homemade present I received or made for someone.
What makes that present special? Does it reflect the personality of the giver?
I then invite my students to tell about presents they have made for others. Why are such presents so remembered?I even have them ask their parents about special presents they have given and received.
Presents from the Heart
I ask students to think of presents from the heart and tell or write about them ( preferably, on festive paper) starting out like this:
The gift I would most want to have two years from now is………
The gift you most often give to me, maybe without even knowing is…….
If I had only one wish to wish you, I would wish you………….
Thank you for all the gifts you give to me, especially………………………
Story or class discussion starters
Why do you think being an elf is a “toyriffic” job?
With so much work to be done, when do you think Santa’s elves get a chance to celebrate?
How are they getting ready for Christmas?
What would an elf want for Christmas?
What elf jobs would you like to do?
How do you think the workshop and elf jobs will be different in 2020?
I first read about this activity in the ELTNews newspaper , November 2010 issue . It was one of the inspiring ideas shared there, by Akis Davanelos , a Greek teacher trainer and publisher.If you manage to find that issue and read the whole article about how to ” Practice GRAMMAR before Christmas”, on page 10, you’ll be surprised by his amazing ideas!
Akis, suggests that we could use the following songs to practice various grammar points:
Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
Frosty the Snowman
The Christmas song ( Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…)
Pronunciation points ( Rhyming words)
Frosty the Snowman
Jingle bell rock
Let it snow
Rocking around the Christmas tree
The Christmas song
Away in a Manger
We Three Kings
We can also, ask our students to write their own versions based on well known Xmas tunes.
The twelve days of Christmas
The Christmas song
The Christmas story book game
A game I ..invented this year and my students simply loved! I read them a story about Christmas customs and traditions in other countries. Each time they heard the name of a country, they had to pass a little notebook to the person on their right! The last student, could take it home!They really loved it, and it was the perfect motivator for them , to get focused on the story !
A traditional game with a Christmas twist…
Put the class into two teams.
Give each team a set of cards.
Explain the rules: One person from each team starts. He/she will select a card. on each card is written the name of a song, book or film (with a Christmas link). He/she must then mime what is said on the card to the rest of his/her group. No speaking is allowed.
First, we should mime the category, ie song-open hands around mouth, book- open hands in a book reading pose and projector-like pose for a film.
Also, explain symbols for “little words” eg T shape for “the”, thumb and forehead together for “little word” etc.
When the team guesses the first one, the second person can take a card and so on.
The winners are the first team to mime and guess all their cards correctly.
The “Thank you” game
You need a pen and a piece of paper for each player.
In every turn, each player has to write one line on the piece of paper in their hand, fold it over so that the next player can’t see what has been written and pass it on to the player on their left.
In order, each payer has to write:
- The name of the person receiving the letter-someone famous is best.
- Thanks for a particular present.
- A line describing the present or what is good about it.
- A line saying what the present is going to be used for.
- A closing sentence.
When you have finished, take turns to read the hilarious results!
For more Christmas fun ideas, you should read my last year post: Our English class favourite Christmas games